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Council prepares to take legal action to take possession of Swansea Airport

30 Sep 2023 3 minute read
A runway at Swansea Airport (pic courtesy of Swansea Airport Ltd

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

The future of Swansea Airport has taken another twist after its owner, Swansea Council, said it intended to go to court to take possession of it.

This would require the authority to end the lease it has with the current tenant, Swansea Airport Ltd.

The council said the legal action came after a range of issues relating to the airport management, including the suspension of its Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licence – meaning commercial flights were not allowed from the site. The council has previously served notices on Swansea Airport Ltd.

While the legal process runs its course, the council said it would continue to explore a range of options for a viable airport future. It said its aim was to achieve a seamless transition of the occupancy and operational arrangements, should the legal action to retake possession be successful.

A council spokesman said: “Following service of notices on the company, the next step is to go to court to gain possession of the lease from the tenant. It is a lengthy legal process that could take many months to complete.

“In the meantime, we are also talking to Swansea Airport Stakeholders’ Alliance, a group of businesses operating at the site, about their potential options and ideas for the interim operation of the airport.”

In January this year the council’s cabinet agreed to negotiate a new lease with Swansea Airport Ltd, which said it had been investing in the Fairwood Common facility, Gower. A number of airport users, though, raised concerns about the way they claimed it was being run and maintained, and urged the council not to go down this route.

Safety management 

Around three weeks after cabinet’s decision, the CAA suspended the airport’s licence for a “systemic failure of safety management”. Cabinet members expressed frustration at the situation and went on to confirm that they would re-consider their position. In June they decided they would take steps to end the lease unless the CAA reinstated the airport’s licence by the autumn.

Swansea Airport director Roy Thomas, who last winter announced plans to launch passenger flights between Swansea and Exeter, said he preferred not to comment given the legal situation.

A spokesman for Swansea Airport Stakeholders’ Alliance said it believed that a change to the current arrangements would enable wider social, environmental and economic benefits to be brought to the airport, in addition to light aviation. He said flight schools and parachute operations currently operating at the airport would not be affected by the legal process.

He added: “We have provided the council with a proposal for the not-for-profit interim operation of the airport and this is under discussion.”

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